Slowly, Roger and I are getting to the end stage of the downstairs project. The tiles are all in place in the bathroom, and once the grout is set, we’ll seal the newly laid slate floor. Doing this project has not been easy, for countless reasons, but one is getting the tiles cut to the exact shape in a room, which is not perfectly square. Old buildings rarely have such things.
To do the tile cutting, Roger will set up the tile cutter, don his waterproofs and get about the business of cutting tiles. With the larger, more cumbersome pieces (90 cm, needing to become 30 cm x 60 cm), I am called in to hold the slate steady and flat. This may sound easy, but it isn’t. Balanced in a squatting position on uneven ground outside and the noise of the water wheel cutting through the slate causing a headache, is enough of a challenge. Doing this with my eyes closed really tends to piss Roger off.
“Hold it steady and pay attention!” barks Roger “I am, I just can’t see what I’m doing.” I bark back “Why not?” “My eyes are closed.” No response. Silence.
But, I didn’t have safety glasses and the time I used my sunglasses was worse than just closing my eyes. You see, I don’t want a little shard of slate flying up into my face and blinding me. We all know there are a huge number of injuries from DIY projects and I was not going to be one of them while we are cutting slate tiles. Roger and I reached an agreement about how to proceed.
While we wait for the plumber to show up to install the radiators, shower, toilet, bathtub and sink, Roger headed into town and I headed out to do some clearing of ditches to keep the water flowing away from our house and track. It’s physical. It’s muddy. It’s fun. That is, until a gorse bush leaps up and hits you in the face. Ouch!
On this blog I have waxed poetically about the beauty of the gorse bush:
What an impact this plant has on the landscape, both in colour and scent. There is a distinctive coconut smell, fragrant to some (Roger) and weak to others (me). Along with heathers, these are the plants we think of on wild, windy, and open moors and this landscape certainly would be lacking something significant without them. It characterizes the scenery, and with its spiny, needle-like leaves, provides dense shelter and food for insects and birds such as Warblers, Stonechats and Yellowhammers, the last of which will return soon to our bird feeders.
But, not this time. After this spiky, aggressive, and in this moment, rather fugly plant hit me, I uttered more than a few disparaging words and then immediately grew concerned. My right eye was watering profoundly and my vision was significantly blurred. Also, it hurt like hell. To be precise, it felt like a burning needle had been inserted into my eye.
Attempting to stay calm in the face of the unknown injury, I went inside, climbed out of my waterproofs, and waited for Roger to return. I couldn’t drive myself to A&E because I couldn’t see very well. Within 30 minutes, we were at the hospital and quickly redirected from the emergency room to the Royal Eye Infirmary, which honestly, came as a relief. I like experts, especially in moments of mild panic. I’m not proud and, rational or not, will quickly admit that I was fearful about losing some vision in my right eye.
A thorough exam was performed to see if there was any loss of vision, scratches or objects lodged anywhere. What was revealed came as a huge relief, the right cornea is scratched, but not too deeply, so with some drops, rest, and time, everything should return to normal. There will be a follow up appointment in a week.
While Dr. McFay was taking my medical history and performing the exam, she asked how I sustained the injury. I explained I was in the garden and digging when a gorse bush came from nowhere and socked me in the eye.
As the eye exam was winding up and I was being handed all of my prescriptions, I asked if there was anything else I should be doing. Dr. McFay responded with a smile and said, “You should wear goggles when you garden.”